We are heading into March, which means we are getting closer and closer to when NFL teams have to begin to make real decisions. Free agency is almost here, the draft is closer than you might think, and the New York Giants have a lot to do.
Here are the nuts and bolts of an offseason plan for the Giants. We have talked about most of this, but let’s put it all in one place.
Trade James Bradberry
We have talked about this a lot in recent weeks. It isn’t something the Giants should want to do — it is something they unfortunately really have to do.
As much as Wink Martindale needs good cornerbacks, what the Giants need more is the $12.136 ($13.5 million after June 1) in cap relief that moving on from Bradberry would provide.
In a recent mock offseason, I was able to acquire third- and fifth-round picks in exchange for Bradberry. That doesn’t mean that would be the actual return. What could the Giants realistically get?
- Houston got a 2022 third-round and a 2023 sixth-round pick last year in exchange for cornerback Bradley Roby.
- In 2020, the Detroit Lions got third- and fifth-round picks from the Eagles for cornerback Darius Slay.
That is probably the ballpark for Bradberry.
Listen to offers for Saquon Barkley
If you have been reading Big Blue View this offseason, you know that trading Barkley this offseason is the path I prefer.
I know it would stink if the Giants move on from Barkley only to watch him regain something like his 2018 form while playing for someone else. He is, after all, only 25. That is certainly a possibility. It also wouldn’t be any fun watching Barkley star on a team that reaches the Super Bowl. We just watched Odell Beckham Jr. reach the Super Bowl with the Los Angeles Rams, and I know that likely stirred up a complicated mix of feelings for Giants fans.
Still, this is about re-setting your franchise, allocating your resources properly, and building the team the way GM Schoen and head coach Brian Daboll want it built.
Again and again in recent years, we see teams not getting what they paid for after forking over gargantuan second contracts to running backs. Building around big-money running backs is just not a path that generally pays dividends.
The Los Angeles Rams didn’t get their money’s worth after giving Todd Gurley a four-year, $60 million extension. The Dallas Cowboys gave Ezekiel Elliott a six-year, $90 million extension in 2019. There are currently plenty of people who think backup Tony Pollard is a better player. There are reports now that the Carolina Panthers are trying to get someone to take what remains of Christian McCaffrey’s four-year, $64 million extension off their hands.
I don’t honestly know what kind of player Barkley is any longer. I don’t think Schoen or Daboll know. Barkley doesn’t know. There is a curiosity factor, and if he is still anything close to what he was in 2018, that’s a heckuva talent to ship away for some mid-round picks.
Still, he is a running back who has had debilitating leg injuries three seasons in a row. He is a player you just can’t consider giving a big second contract, especially if you want to reset the franchise’s finances and spend your money and resources at the premium positions.
There is an argument to be made that if you want to trade Barkley, you let him build value by playing the first part of the season and move him to a contender looking for some offensive juice at the trade deadline. That certainly has merit.
The counter argument? What if, while you are trying to let him build value, he gets injured again? Then, he has zero value to anyone and you wind up eventually just letting him go for nothing.
What is the right price?
- Von Miller brought second- and fourth-round picks when the Denver Broncos sent him to the Rams.
- The Atlanta Falcons received second- and fourth-round picks for sending Julio Jones and a sixth-round pick to the Tennessee Titans.
Considering that Barkley is significantly younger than those players, I would want that much if not more.
Trim as much fat elsewhere as you can
I recently went through a lot of this. Beyond Bradberry and perhaps Barkley, there are decisions to make on a number of players.
Those include linebacker Blake Martinez, wide receiver Sterling Shepard, tight end Kyle Rudolph, punter Riley Dixon, safety Julian Love, wide receiver Darius Slayton, tight end Kaden Smith, edge defender Oshane Ximines, center Nick Gates and running back Devontae Booker.
Click the link above if you want the details on what could be saved by moving on from many of those players.
Bargain hunt in free agency
Schoen wants to trim $40 million from the salary cap. The flip side of that is that the players he has said he does not want to do a full tear down. Whatever happens, the players he removes have to be replaced.
The Giants are not going to have a ton of money to spend, and the expectation is they will not be players in the early part of free agency. That, of course, is the big-money part. You can’t have an offensive line with Andrew Thomas and four rookies, though, so Schoen will have to find some low-cost help there. Maybe wide receiver and cornerback, as well.
Let’s see if assistant GM Brandon Brown’s pro personnel background comes in handy.
The Giants have the fifth and seventh overall picks in the 2022 NFL Draft. Expect Schoen to try and find ways to acquire more picks — for both this year and 2023.
“I would say where we are right now, as many at-bats as you can get, as many swings as you can get, I think that’s important where we are as a team,” he told Giants.com.
There are a number of ways Schoen can get those extra swings. He can trade veteran players like Bradberry or Barkley. He could also use one of those two top 10 picks to move down and acquire more mid-round assets over the next couple of drafts.
That would accomplish two useful things. It would give Schoen the added swings he desires, and if he can add 2023 picks might give him ammunition to trade up for a quarterback in 2023 if he feels the need. Trading down would also provide some salary cap relief as each slotted pick costs less against the salary cap than the one before it.
It’s smart business.
What about quarterback?
This is two-fold. Do not pick up Daniel Jones’ fifth-year option. I am in the camp that still holds out hope that Jones can be more than a placeholder quarterback, that we still have not seen his best. I don’t think that best will ever be top five in the NFL, but it could be good enough to win with.
Still, don’t make the mistake the Carolina Panthers made with Sam Darnold, picking up his option before figuring out if he was really the guy they wanted to go forward with.
What the Giants have to do is find a better backup than Mike Glennon or Jake Fromm. Maybe that’s Mitchell Trubisky. Maybe it’s Tyrod Taylor. Maybe it’s someone else. Pushing Jones isn’t the point. The bigger part is we know it’s likely Jones will miss a game or three along the way. It would be nice to have a chance to get competent quarterback play when that happens.